House districts discriminate Austin The handwriting has been on the redistricting wall for years. Texas is now an urban state with significant black and chicano populations, and the U.S. Constitution requires that the state be districted to reflect these realities. But the entrenched rural and conservative legislators have held onto their districts and their committee chairmanships and their ties to wealthy corporate interests with the tenacity of a dying aristocracy. In the cities, the conservative white establishment has maintained control of its legislative delegations by perpetuating multi-member districts. THE COURTS forced Texas to redistrict this year. The Legislative Redistricting Committee, under the control of Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, wrote House, Senate and Congressional bills with more of an eye to placating incumbents than to adhering to the Supreme Court’s one-man, one-vote mandate. Committee members knew, as legislators have known in the past, that even if their plans were struck down by the courts, the state probably would be granted another period of grace, and the incumbents would have a chance at another term. A three -man federal court rewrote the Congressional redistricting plan, requiring six in cumbent congressmen, all conservatives, to run agsint one another. The state attorney general appealed the decision and the U.S. Supreme Court a few weeks ago granted a stay order, thus allowing the old districting lines to remain in effect through this year’s elections. The Supreme Court will hear the Congressional case later this year. If it agrees that the Congressional plan is unconstitutional, the Legislature will be forced to redistrict again next session, when it may well choose again to write another unconstitutional bill protecting incumbents, And then the whole rigamarole will start all over again. Meanwhile, another three-judge panel in Austin has ruled that the House redistricting plan is also unconstitutional, Circuit Judge Irving Goldberg and District Judges William Wayne Justice and John Wood, Jr., said legislators from Dallas and San Antonio must run this year from single-member rather than from at-large districts. The court ruled that the rest of the state must be redistricted, but it gave the Legislature one more chance to do the job constitutionally. The attorney general is in the process of trying to get a stay for the multi-member districts in Dallas and San Antonio. THE JUDGES concluded that the House plan does not meet the one-man, one -vote rule and that the state made no justification for population variances among the 150 districts. The court couldn’t find a reason for the Redistricting Board to give Harris County 23 single-member districts, while leaving Dallas and Bexar Counties with multi-member districts. The decision stated, “The only reason assigned for this difference of treatment between Houston and every other metropolitan area is that some atmospheric sounding emanating from Harris County differed from those coming from other metropolitan counties. Such sonars must have some substantive or scientific basis for measurement data. It appears to this court that if a state elects to use the ‘wishes of the people’ to treat metropolitan areas differently and unequally, then it is under some obligation to do a more thorough job of investigating the real ‘wishes of the people’ than was done by the Redistricting Board.” The plaintiffs established to the court’s satisfaction that it costs considerably more for a candidate to run and communicate with his electorate in a multi-member district than in a single-member district. It found that because of the vast numbers of people one must reach in a multi-member district, a candidate must turn to “high expense methodology, such media as television, radio or large newspaper spreads. If he were running in the ‘ideal’ district with only 74,600 people to reach, the record indicates that a candidate would be able to, and inclined to, use less costly methods of campaigning and avoid television expenses in particular,” the court said. The lengthly decision went into detail about discrimination against blacks in Dallas and against ehleanos in San Antonio. Following are excerpts from the transcript: DALLAS Under the legislative plan enacted by the Legislative Redistricting Board, Dallas County comprises a multi-member district with a population in excess of 1,300,000. Thus, Dallas County’s multi-member district is approximately three times as large as a congressional district in Texas . and it has a population greater than that of 15 states. . . , The Dallas plaintiffs have shown not only that the number of black community residents who have been legislators is not in proportion to ghetto residents, but also that the black community has been effectively excluded from participation in the Democratic primary selection process. As a factual matter, Negroes in Dallas County vote primarily for candidates of the Democratic Party. Furthermore, we find that is is extremely difficult to secure either a representative seat in the Dallas County delegation or the Democratic primary nomination without the endorsement of the Dallas Committee for Furthermore, it has been shown that white candidates endorsed by the DCRG in either a primary or general election can win in a county-wide race without appealing to the Negro vote. Essentially, the plaintiffs have shown that the DCRG, without the assistance of black community leaders, decides how many Negroes, if any, will slate in the Democratic primary. [Since Reconstruction, there have been only two blacks from Dallas County, both of them DCRG candidates, elected to the Texas House.] The DCRG then informs some black community leaders of its decision and requests that those leaders select the Negro candidate, February 18, 1972 11 , GALLERY 600 Contemporary Paintings, Sculpture, Prints THE FINEST TRADITIONAL FRAMING Custom Plexiglass and Custom Welded Frames 600 West 28th at Nueces . . . phone 477-3229
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